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Program Snapshot

All organs in the body are stimulated by nerves, which send signals that affect the organ’s function. Modulation of nerve signals to control organ function has recently been recognized as a potentially powerful way to treat many diseases and conditions, such as hypertension, heart failure, gastrointestinal disorders, type II diabetes, inflammatory disorders, and more. However, the mechanisms of action for therapies in which nerves are stimulated to control organ function are poorly understood. The Common Fund’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) has the central goal of interrogating and elucidating peripheral autonomic and sensory control of internal organ function to catalyze development of more effective and minimally invasive neuromodulation therapies. SPARC is uniquely positioned to serve as a community resource that provides the broader public and private research communities with the scientific foundation necessary to advance neuromodulation therapies towards precise neural control of organ function to treat diseases and conditions.

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Program Highlights


Discover why  recent investments, such as the SPARC program, and successful trials using nerves in the foot or ankle to treat overactive bladder syndrome and chronic pelvic pain herald a shift from traditional medications to neuromodulation therapies.

Learn how  programs like SPARC may alleviate conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease by controlling electrical impulses to the spleen.

During the 2013-2014 Common Fund strategic planning process, the NIH community identified the need to understand the mechanisms of action for neuromodulation therapies. Although some neuromodulation therapies are in use, the underlying technologies are not optimal, and so a great opportunity exists to develop improved therapies for a number of diseases and conditions. Improving and developing new neuromodulation therapies requires a better understanding of the neural circuits in end-organ systems, as well as the development of novel electrode designs, surgical procedures, and stimulation protocols. In response to these needs and opportunities, the Common Fund plans to launch the SPARC program in fiscal year 2015.

New! Exploratory Technologies to Understand the Control of Organ Function by the Peripheral Nervous System (U18)

12 awards issued September 25, 2015

Please click the color-coded shapes below to view individual awardee abstracts.


Lower Urinary Tract


Cardiovascular and Upper Airway

Gastrointestinal Tract

Electrical Interfaces



Viral Approaches and Optogenetics





Tissue Clearing and 3D Imaging




Transgenic and Animal Models







Ultrasound or Infrared Modulation














                      Picture of Neurons in the Body


SPARC Program Manager position 
Details available by clicking the image below


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